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ENGLISH VERB TENSES NAME OF TENSE FORMATION PRESENT I am CONTINUOUS He, she, it is (PROGRESSIVE) We, you, they are +_____ing She’s watching TV.

USE/MEANING 1. right now 2. during this period of time 3. future, if the plan is certain (They are getting married in August)

SIMPLE PRESENT

I, you, we, they + base form He, she it + s or es

1.

FUTURE

1.

1.

2.

SIMPLE PAST

PAST CONTINUOUS (PROGRESSIVE)

I am; he, she, it is ; you, we, they are + going + infinitive (She’s going to go.)

will + base form

3. See present and present continuous tenses add ed to base form for regular verbs. For other verbs, see an irregular verb form list. I, he, she, it was We, you, they were +________ing

PAST HABIT

1.

used to + base form

2. I used to live in New York City. 3.

would + base form

When I used to live in New York City, I would always take a taxi to the theater.

habit (He jogs everyday.) 2. statement of fact (Cats eat meat.) 3. a scheduled future event (The bus leaves at 7:00)

CLUES & CAUTIONS 1. now 2. today, this week, this semester • Watch out for noncontinuous verbs. • Don’t use DO with BE, Frequency adverbs: everyday, always, usually, often, sometimes, seldom, rarely, never

a. future plan, b.action that will happen in the immediate future (Look out! You’re going to fall c. prediction 2. promise, offer, prediction

Tomorrow, next week, next year

finished past actions

Dates (1850, 2001), ago, when, yesterday, last night, last week, last month, last year While

1.a past action that was continuing to go on (I was watching TV last night at 7:00.) 2.a past action that was interrupted (We were eating when the phone rang. 1.for a habitual state, event or action that was true in the past but is no longer true

2.for expressing actions or events that occurred regularly during a period in the past

Will is a modal. Don’t use DO with modals • Use only a base form of a verb after a modal (will going , will goes)

Don’t use DID with was or were.

with did, drop the ed. (Did you use to smoke?) Don’t confuse used to with be used to doing Would can’t be used to show location or possession(We would live in New York.)

• •


FUTURE IN THE PAST

1. 2.

PRESENT PERFECT

was/were going to___ would + base verb

I, you we, they have He, she it has + past participle (ed for regular verbs, for irregular verbs see a list of irregular verbs)

PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS (PROGRESSIVE)

I, you, we, they have He, she, it has +been +_______ing

PAST PERFECT

had + past participle

for events or actions that were planned in the past

Relates the past to the present time 1. for an action or situation that began in the past and continues into the present (I’ve been sick since Tuesday and I’m still sick. 2. For a repeated past action or for a period of time that is not finished (We’ve had three exams this semester.) 3. For a past action when the specific time is not mentioned, any time before now (She's found a new job.) 4. For an action completed in the immediate past (They’ve just finished eating.) 1.

for an action or situation that began in the past and continues into the present (It has been raining all day long, and it’s still raining now.) 2. for an action that has just stopped within the last few minutes (It’s been raining. It’s not raining now, but the streets are still wet.) 1. when telling a story about the past, for an action that happened before the story began 2. for an action that happened before another past action

Examples: We knew the wedding was going to be on June 15, but we didn’t know where it would take place. 1. for, since • You must use for or since for this meaning • use for with length of time and since with a specific time 2. so far, today, this month, this semester 3. ever, never, already, yet • Don’t use specific time with this meaning (Don’t write “She has arrived yesterday.”) • Yet is only used with questions and negatives 4. just • Don’t use specific time with this meaning •

Don’t use do or did with present perfect for, since with meaning #1 (same as meaning #1 of present perfect) • Don’t use do or did • Watch out for noncontinuous vers that cannot be used with this tense: be have (possession) own know By the time, after, before Example: By the time he came home, his family had already eaten. • Don’t use do or did


FUTURE PROGRESSIVE

will + be +_____ing

to make a future action come to life

FUTURE PERFECT

will + have + past participle

FUTURE PERFECT PROGRESSIVE

will + have + been +____ing

To show a future state, action or event as if it were already past, Or to show an action that will happen before a certain time in the future To show a future continuous action as if it were already in progress, Or to show an action that will be happening before a certain time in the future

By this time tomorrow A week from now‌ By the time you get this message I will be lying on the beach in Cancun. By noon tomorrow I will have finished the assignment. By the time you get this message I will already have landed in Cancun By the end of next month, I will have been working at this company for five years. • Watch out for noncontinuous verbs: be, know, have (possession) own


CONDITIONAL SENTENCES REAL PRESENT present tense in main clause and present tense in the dependent clause (beginning with If, when or whenever) REAL FUTURE future (will, may or can + base verb or be going to + base verb) in the main clause and present tense in the dependent clause (beginning with if or when) You can also use “unless” to mean “if not.”

PRESENT UNREAL

would + base verb in the main clause and past tense in the if clause

A situation that is always true whenever the condition exists.

If I eat raw onions, I get sick. I get sad whenever I hear that song.

A situation that will be true in the future if the condition exists in the future

If the DJ plays that song, I am going to cry.

A situation that is not true because the condition is not expected to be met

(You can also use might or could) in the main clause for an even less certain outcome.)

PAST UNREAL

Would (or might or could) + present perfect in the main clause and past perfect in the if clause

I call this the “too late” conditional. It is untrue because it is no longer possible. The condition was not met.

MIXED TIME IN UNREAL CONDITIONAL SENTENCES

1.

1.An untrue condition in the past affects the present time.

2.

Past perfect in the if clause and would + base verb in the main clause Past tense in the if clause and would, could, or might + present perfect in the main clause

2.A condition that still does not exist in the present time has affected the past.

You’ll pass the test if you study. I expect you to pass because I expect you will study. • Use future only in the main clause, not in both clauses. (If you will study, you will pass.) If I were you, I would apologize. ( I am not you.) I would give money to charity if I won the lottery. I don’t have much chance of winning the lottery. If you studied, you would pass the test. You are not studying, so I don’t expect you to pass. • WERE is used for all persons in the unreal conditional If you had studied, you would have passed the test. You didn’t study, so you didn’t pass, but don’t you wish you could turn the clock back and have another chance? Example #1: If he had passed, he wouldn’t be in summer school now. (He didn’t pass. That’s why he’s in summer school.) #2 If I were rich, I could have bought you a car for your birthday. (I’m not rich. That’s why I wasn’t able to buy you a car.)



English Verb Tenses